It takes a crisis to show how easily MCAS barrier could be dropped

A student left Sarah Greenwood School as Boston Public Schools closed on March 16 to try to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
A student left Sarah Greenwood School as Boston Public Schools closed on March 16 to try to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

2020 reprieve helps, but what about next year?

Massachusetts did the right thing for about 1,000 high school seniors who completed every graduation requirement except passing one or more of the MCAS exams (“State offers an MCAS reprieve,” Metro, April 29). They’ll be able to graduate based on coursework in a relevant class.

My organization, along with teachers, parents, and others in the education community, pushed for canceling MCAS and waiving the graduation requirement this year.

What about next year? Scores from tests next spring would be measuring wealth and privilege even more starkly than MCAS tests usually do. The results would lack validity or comparability with prior or future years. They would not tell us which students responded with courage, creativity, and compassion to this crisis, or what they learned in the process.


Massachusetts should join the 39 states that never required graduation tests or that abandoned them over the last decade. Most recognize that a test score says little about whether a student is prepared for adult life. The tests lead to wasting time on test prep exercises students won’t use again. Worse, they exacerbate the gaps in opportunities and learning for Black, Latinx, English-language learner, and special education students.

It’s time to leave these outmoded tests behind and prepare students for life’s real tests and challenges.

Lisa Guisbond

Executive director

Citizens for Public Schools


Yes, this is a teachable moment on the pointlessness of standardized testing

How ironic that it took a global pandemic to allow common sense to shine through for the relatively small number of Massachusetts high school seniors who hadn’t yet passed the MCAS. The solution is so simple: Determine their competency to graduate based on grades. What might appear to be a small number — 1,000 or so students — is actually a big deal in the lives of each of these students, for whom passing a standardized test was the single barrier to being granted a high school diploma.


Can our state finally take a second look at this issue and decide, once and for all, that our children’s future should not be ruined because they cannot pass a standardized test?

Ruth Kaplan